WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Usos (c) vs. The New Day (w/Big E.) - 7.25/10
They keep putting over this stupid rap battle as if it was some big moment where extremely personal things were said that have turned this into some sort of blood feud, but it doesn't feel like anything close to that. Nikki Bella's various feuds have felt like more impactful "personal" things were said.
Jey Uso's shoulder injury from two years ago has been retroactively changed to being "career threatening." You'd think if it had been career threatening they would have made a big deal out of his recovery and comeback, but they did no such thing. They also claimed that the injury was "suffered in a match with Xavier" but he wrestled at Mania with the injury, and Xavier wasn't in that match, so if the injury was career-threatening then this makes WWE's medical staff look incompetent. If you're going to lie, why not just say that the injury was suffered at WrestleMania (where they even did an injury spot for him)? New Day was in that match, too.
The match itself was pretty great, but the build has been so poor that I had a hard time getting into it. That heat segment definitely helped, though. New Day won, which I should be fine with, but I know that The Usos will want a rematch and I am already so tired of seeing these two teams together.
SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. BARON CORBIN - 3.5/10
JBL just mentioned Hirooki Goto, saying that Nakamura won the IWGP Heavyweight Title from him. He also name-dropped Hiroyoshi Tenzan. I really wish they'd just pick a stance and stick with it: either nothing exists outside of WWE and the properties it has acquired or everything does. You can't just pick and choose depending on the situation.
They had a match in which strikes were exchanged. Also, Corbin worked over Nakamura's back with bearhugs. These two do not work well together. This was not helped by the fact that the match ended when Corbin hit Nakamura in the nuts for a DQ. So after an entire month in which nothing happened, we now got to our PPV and got a non-finish. F*ck Smackdown. Corbin started to leave, but then came back and laid Nakamura out with the End of Days.
FIVE-WAY ELIMINATION #1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH:
Charlotte Flair vs. Tamina vs. Lana vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya - 6.5/10
Naomi is on commentary. She got a full f*cking entrance, dancing around so that we know she clearly isn't injured, and during this all Byron was putting her over for her "fighting spirit" and talking about how she will "face anyone at any time." THEN WHY ISN'T SHE DEFENDING THE BELT ON THIS F*CKING PPV?! On commentary, she repeatedly buried Lana like a jerk. She also came off like a total heel with her arrogance, especially whenever Charlotte came up ('she'd probably be champion if I weren't here.' "probably the most athletic... next to me," etc.).
Nattie and Becky were down on the outside for f*cking forever so that Charlotte could fight Lana and Tamina two-on-one. That's a fine idea, but if you're going to have them be down for so long, so early into the match, at least have them take a bump that could believably result in that.
I actually liked a lot of the little things they did with Tamina and Lana's relationship, with Becky and Charlotte, and with Lana and Becky, as there are some very interesting directions they could- and seemingly look like they will- go from here... but number of similar balls that WWE has dropped recently takes away my faith that they will follow any of this up well, especially because SummerSlam is a joint-brand show, which means fewer slots for each brand (which means that we're probably not getting an undercard women's match from either brand, despite the fact that the various stories one should tell coming out of this match scream for SummerSlam to feature either Becky vs. Charlotte for #1 contendership, or Becky & Charlotte vs. Tamina & Lana [leading to Charlotte & Becky facing off for #1 contendership soon after]).
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Dear Lord please make that belt stop glowing. It looks horrendous. Naomi offers Nattie a handshake but Nattie snubs her. This was supposed to make Nattie unlikable, but between how unlikable Naomi was on commentary and how atrocious that belt looks when it glows, I can't in good conscience root for Naomi at Summer Slam.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
AJ Styles(c) vs. Kevin Owens - 8/10
These guys had the awesome match we all knew they would, but the booking here is utterly baffling to me. Why have AJ win the title just to lose it back this quickly, and why put the belt on Owens when you've spent the past two weeks teasing AJ defending the title against Cena or Nakamura? Also, what was the point of that ref bump if nothing happened during it?
JINDER MAHAL & THE SINGH BROTHERS BACKSTAGE - The Singh Brothers note that they won't be able to be at ringside for Jinder tonight, but they will be watching their pal from the back. Jinder tells them not to fear for he will not be alone tonight; he will have his millions of Indian fans with him in spirit. So basically our heels just cut a total babyface promo.
John Cena vs. Rusev - 5/10
I'm as patriotic an American as you will find, but it is impossible for me to not roll my eyes at this video package. The match worked like capture the flag except that both guys had the same "finish line," which was a podium located on the stage. The US flag was on the corner of the hardcam-side and aisle-side of the ring, while the Bulgarian flag was located in the corner of the announcers'-side and the opposite hardcam-side... meaning that Rusev, the heel, had to move his flag a distance that was twenty feet longer than babyface Cena had to. That doesn't seem very fair at all.
This was a tale of two matches. The first half of this match, before they got to the top of the ramp, was extremely boring. It was slow and painfully repetitive. Once they got to the top of the ramp things got a lot better, but it wasn't anywhere near enough to make up for the first part of the match (which probably wasn't longer than the second part, but definitely seemed like it was much, much longer).
They are now replaying a f*cking Fashion Files segment on a f*cking PPV.
SAMI ZAYN vs. MIKE KANELLIS (w/Maria Kanellis) - 5.5/10
They did a finish tonight that played off of the finish on Smackdown, but this time Sami reversed the TKO and hit the Helluva Kick for the win (it would have been nice to see that the referees have learned something by having Maria get quickly ejected from ringside when she got into the ring or something like that but apparently that's too much to ask). Well. That was a short feud. There goes all the heat.
PUNJABI PRISON MATCH FOR THE WWE TITLE:
Jinder Mahal(c) vs. Randy Orton - DUD!
These guys had an uphill battle ahead of them going in due to the nature of this gimmick match. The double cage made it very hard to see in a lot of the time, and the rules of the match make this match essentially us watching guys trying to escape through doors and failing three times before succeeding a forth, then watching them try to escape from something a different way. Put quite simply, it's predisposed to be extremely repetitive unless you have some extremely creative wrestlers in there, and these two did not fit that bill. You can try to supplement it with some sort of story (like Jinder working over Randy's arm), but that only works if that story is followed through on, and Randy pretty much stopped selling his arm the moment he had to start climbing things.
Now we come to some other problems- mostly on the booking front- that hurt this match greatly. First was the fact that Randy Orton was easily able to step from one cage to another without ever touching the ground. If all you have to do is climb one thing then take one step to scale the space between the two structures to find yourself at the top of the outer structure (the guy on the floor would take his steps first and then do his climbing), then you are almost completely destroying the idea that you get some sort of advantage by being the one to escape through the door of the inner cage, which is what the entire first section of the match was built around.
Secondly, there is the interference of the Singh Brothers in its various forms. They first interfered when the final door was opened and they popped up from out of the ring to pull Jinder out through the door just before it closed. If they were under the ring the whole time, how did they know when to pop out? They had no way of seeing what was going on above them. Also, why didn't they just pop out when the first door opened so they and Jinder could beat Randy up three-on-one the whole time?
That question brings us to the bigger issue with their interference hurting this match, which was that it basically gave us the same three-on-one situations we've been getting in every match and every segment of this feud so far. Their interference here- especially once we saw Samir's ability to fit through the holes in the cage, destroys the cage's ability to keep people out, and if this thing can't prevent guys from running in and joining the fight then it's just a giant jungle gym. And speaking of giants...
This match ended when The Great Khali made his return to WWE and stopped Randy from escaping the cage, allowing Jinder to win. So we've got YET ANOTHER interference finish in this feud (and just like the last two times, I'm sure Dragon and Shane will do nothing about this, even though James Ellsworth's interference in similar situations was treated as some sort of massive crime, and actions were taken to prevent him from doing so again), and now we've got an utterly atrocious wrestler back in the company who will be eating up the screen time of the Zayns, Gables, Zigglers, Harpers, Kanellis/Bennetts, and the like, making Smackdown even less bearable.
Another bad PPV from Smackdown, despite the excellent work of the men in the title matches on the undercard. With the exception of Extreme Rules, I have now left every WWE PPV since February rather disappointed and frustrated, and I yet again find myself dreading this Tuesday's Smackdown. That's not good.